[Top 100] 2015 PCT Top 100 Companies

Features - Cover Feature: Top 100

May 28, 2015

#1: Rollins

Rollins Acquisitions Speak to Pest Management Industry’s Strength


Long reputed to be recession-proof, the pest management industry certainly showed its mettle in recent years, and now, large, cash-rich corporations are looking to add the best of the best to their organizations.

“It’s great that we as an industry experienced revenue increases all through the recession while a lot of companies serving other sectors of the economy struggled or went out of business,” says John Wilson, president and COO of Rollins Inc. As a result, the current M&A landscape is highly competitive, with a growing number of businesses eager to “snap up companies that express an interest in selling,” he says.

Rollins and its subsidiaries top that list of interested buyers. North America’s largest pest management company celebrated 17 years of uninterrupted growth and profitability in 2014, with annual revenues reaching a record $1.41 billion (5.5 percent growth).

Acquisitions are a key component of Rollins’ growth strategy. Its purchase of the Orkin brand a half-century ago set the stage for decades of national and international growth, and the industry giant continues to expand its global footprint through acquisitions, as well as new franchise development.

In the last year, Rollins added 14 international franchises and acquired Allpest and Statewide Pest Management in Australia, along with Virginia-based PermaTreat Pest Control and Michigan-based Critter Control, the nation’s largest wildlife control company.

Wilson shared with PCT the vision behind the strategic Critter Control acquisition: “Historically, we hadn’t seen a lot of interest in wildlife control, but then customer demand began increasing. We realized that the market holds a lot of opportunity. We tried in many markets to provide wildlife control services ourselves but recognized that this is truly a specialized area. We’ve been talking with Critter Control founder Kevin Clark about acquiring his business since the mid-2000s.”

Clark will continue to lead Critter Control, which will operate separately. “We’re very excited about Kevin staying on board with us,” Wilson says. “We don’t intend to tell him how to run the business. Rather, we want to share the advantages of being under the Rollins umbrella. For example, we can provide tools — SEO, marketing expertise, buying power, health and liability insurance, etc. — that will enable Critter Control to continue to grow.”

Keeping executive management in place when a company is acquired is one of Rollins’ goals, explains Wilson. “We want to purchase well-run companies with great leadership,” he says. “We still run many of these independently because they have a good name; we’ve purchased other companies we tuck in to our existing business. In all cases, we prefer that the leadership stay.”

What types of companies do cash-rich organizations like Rollins look to acquire?

Wilson told PCT magazine: “We are always interested in new opportunities, whether that means high-profile companies or more modest businesses. In the case of Critter Control, for example, we viewed it as a good opportunity because it is in a business segment with growth potential. We want to be in the middle of any opportunity that adds another solid company to the Rollins portfolio, and we’re willing to come up with creative merger and acquisition solutions to add those companies to our family of brands.” — Donna DeFranco

 

Hal Stein Leaves Crane With a Legacy of Honesty and Commitment


“Never cheat the customer, never cheat the company, and never cheat yourself. If you ever think any of these things are happening, I want to know about it.”

Harold “Hal” Stein has been sharing this directive with employees of San Francisco-based Crane Pest Control (now a part of Rollins Inc.) — and leading by example — for decades. It’s part of the legacy he leaves to Crane upon his retirement after 54 years of service and leadership.

“Hal always stated that we can’t fool Mother Nature, so a company should not try to outwit science by designing an inadequate program to better the bottom line,” says Deborah Hoffman, senior vice president at Crane, and Stein’s daughter. This commitment to the truth, coupled with his leadership capabilities and genuine compassion for every member of his team, has been the foundation of Crane’s close-knit culture.

Hoffman shares, “Hal’s influence was tested when he announced in 2009 that the company had been acquired by Rollins. To our welcome surprise, we did not lose anyone because of the change. The employees reported that as long as Hal was staying, they would trust his decision and go along with him.”

Stein did stay — long enough to lead his team through the transition and then some. He had open-heart surgery in November 2014 and decided the time was right to announce his retirement. Crane employees were sad to see him go but appreciated all he had given to the firm.

For Stein, it had been a difficult decision. “Two things held me back,” he says. “First and foremost was my love for all 86 employees — many of them with me for more than 30 years, many others for more than 20. They are my friends, and I knew that this would be much more than a change in employment status. Second was the knowledge that I would be ending my relationship with this very special organism called Crane. Back in the ’60s, we set out on a journey to make pest control a profession: We designed our structure, crafted our compensation program and enforced our education development in ways that were practically unknown in the industry. And it worked! I was the president of NPMA during the time that EPA and FIFRA were activated, so some of our ideas influenced the laws and actions in vogue today.”

Indeed, Stein was often tapped by EPA, USDA and the California Department of Agriculture for his knowledge and insights. He served on various committees over the years, including EPA’s ASTM Committee on Pesticide Standards.

Stein’s favorite memories at Crane include working with his daughter, Deborah Hoffman; his father-in-law, Eric Livingston, who founded the company; and Crane employees and clients, who, more often than not, also became his friends. Stein also has a very special relationship with Crane’s oldest living ex-employee: Vera Livingston Stein.

“We have been married for more than 61 years,” says Stein. “We were together in pharmacy at UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) and in the Army. Vera was the one who suggested I talk with her father about trying a career in pest management. She has been an inspiration and a joy in every aspect of my life!”

Stein also expresses joy in seeing the impact Hoffman has had on the organization. “She has introduced professionalism in areas that us old-timers at best handled clumsily — HR, employee relations, laws and regulations, and office management. It has been wonderful working with her and watching her grow into a major player on our management team.”

Ken Ward, who has worked his way through the Crane’s organization from technician to vice president, has been selected to succeed Stein as region manager. “Ken, whose father, Kay Ward, also worked with Hal at Crane, has looked to Hal as a mentor. He works well with the Rollins organization and thinks on the cutting edge of technology and effective pest control. He is the perfect choice to succeed Hal,” says Hoffman. — Donna DeFranco

 

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#46: Heron

Heron Lawn & Pest Readies Itself to Take Flight


In the wild, a blue heron often stands motionless as it scans the landscape in search of a fish or small animal for its next meal. And when it identifies its prey, that stillness is broken with lightning-quick action.

Much the same can be said about Heron Lawn & Pest of Apopka, Fla., the #46 ranked company on the 2015 PCT Top 100 List.

Started from the ground up in 2002 by a trio of ambitious entrepreneurs — Joe Patti, Steve Okros and Rodney Lackey — Heron has experienced tremendous growth in the highly competitive Florida pest management and lawn care market.

As Heron positions itself for further growth — the company says it projects overall revenue to hit $19 million this year — it has brought on a steady, veteran hand to help the company take it to the next level.

When the owners of Heron approached Greg Clendenin about joining the company as CEO, the 62-year old veteran pest professional was intrigued.

“I thought I was done with the pest control industry and had moved on to renovating and selling houses,” says Clendenin. “The owners had worked with me at Middleton and they had a good company and business model. I told them if they wanted a CEO and were ready to do it, then I was game for it.”

Truth be told, the entrepreneurial spirit that drove Clendenin’s career with successful stops at Sears Authorized Termite and Pest Control, Middleton Lawn and Pest Control, and Orkin is what drew him back to the industry.

“The opportunity to make an impact with an up-and-coming company like Heron was right in my wheelhouse,” says Clendenin.

Since Clendenin came on board in the fall of 2014 he has devoted his energies to making sure the company is using technology and expanding the sales force.

“To continually improve, a company must be continually changing and innovating,” says Clendenin.

Another part of the formula for growth and success at Heron is to continually enhance the work environment. Investing in the company’s facilities, compensation plans, training, equipment and overall culture is a top priority going forward.

Heron has invested heavily in its management development programs and the company is seeing a difference already. “Everything rises and falls on leadership so the people in those roles have to be very capable,” says Clendenin.

“We want to create an environment that makes people not want to leave but if they do that will allow them to be successful,” says Clendenin. “We also want have our employees strike a work-life balance.”

And while Heron is in the process of establishing protocols and procedures that will sustain its growth, it is not forgetting the entrepreneurial spirit that allowed it to reach this point.

“You can have professional management systems and still be entrepreneurial,” says Clendenin. “You don’t have to give up one for the other.”

As Heron positions itself for future expansion across the state of Florida, the first noticeable difference will be a name change to Heron Home & Outdoor. Clendenin says the new moniker will better reflect the service offerings the company plans to market to consumers.

“We want to offer the highest-quality services in everything we do and we are more than a lawn and pest company,” says Clendenin. — Jeff Fenner

 

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#4: Rentokil

Acquisition of Three Top 100 Companies Fuels Rentokil’s Momentum


Rentokil North America is on a roll, having acquired seven companies in seven states in 2014, including Top 100 firm Alpha Ecological (#63), plus Eradico (#57) and Buffalo Exterminating (#76) in the first quarter of 2015. These acquisitions are part of a strategy that includes pursuing companies in high-growth markets and building local density where operations already exist. (Editor’s note: See the articles on these two pages for additional information on these three deals.)

Rentokil NA President/CEO John Myers told PCT, “Although there are 19,000+ pest control companies in North America, we remain very selective in the types of companies we purchase. We are looking for growth-oriented companies with a similar mindset about delivering world-class service by focusing on the capabilities of our front-line colleagues.”

In short, says Myers, Rentokil seeks “the right people, doing the right things, the right way.” He says Rentokil found this in the following companies it acquired in 2014:

  • Gold Seal Termite & Pest Control (Indianapolis and Chicago)
  • Bliss Pest Protection (Norwalk, Conn.)
  • A-Active Termite & Pest Control (Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Va., markets)
  • Ace Exterminators (West Virginia)
  • Cowan Pest Control (Hattiesburg, Miss.)
  • Alpha Ecological (Washington and Oregon)
  • Green Choice Pest Control (Washington and Oregon)

     

Buffalo Exterminating: Rentokil Becomes a Market Leader in New York

Rentokil started closing acquisition deals early in 2015, with the purchase of Orchard Park, N.Y.-based Buffalo Exterminating on Jan. 6. The 61-year-old, $8.8 million company, led by owners Garry and Joanne Tank, employs 100 people in five offices. The Tanks will remain in their positions of president and CFO, respectively, and John Zimmerman will continue to serve as general manager, for a one-year term.

Rentokil says this acquisition helps beef up its coverage of New York state to attain a stronger leadership position there. The Tanks, who had been preparing to sell for some time, say they look to Rentokil to offer their employees great new opportunities.
 

Eradico Pest Services: The Ehrlich Brand Gets a Boost in Detroit and Beyond

More recently (March 2), Rentokil closed an acquisition deal with Novi, Mich.-based Eradico Pest Services, one of the largest pest control providers in the Great Lakes region. Founded in 1931, Eradico increases Rentokil’s penetration of markets throughout Michigan, including the Detroit metro area.

Eradico’s employees will remain on the team, as will co-owners David Sidder and Chuck Russell, as Eradico becomes part of Ehrlich Pest Control, Rentokil’s primary pest management brand in Michigan.

“We had very specific objectives at the outset of this process,” says Russell. “Chief among them was to find an organization that shared our values and culture, and that would provide opportunities for our people. It became clear to us that Rentokil was the perfect fit for our organization.”
 

Alpha Ecological: ‘The Responsible Choice in Pest Control’ Becomes a Strategic Choice for Rentokil

Like Eden Advanced Technologies, acquired by Rentokil in 2012, Alpha Ecological is a dominant player in the Pacific Northwest. The two companies will now complement each other, delivering more complete coverage in their shared markets, Rentokil says.

“Alpha Ecological and Eden are like two sides of the same coin,” explains Rentokil’s John Myers. “In areas where Eden has a smaller market share, Alpha is more established, and vice versa. Alpha’s strength is in the residential market; Eden’s in commercial. They have branded similarly — appropriately for their markets.”

Alpha will continue to operate as Alpha Ecological to leverage the brand equity it has established in not only Washington and Oregon but also Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Texas. Alpha Executive Vice President Scott Sneer explains, “Alpha Ecological has made a significant investment into positioning ourselves as a lifestyle brand; the vast majority of our customers have chosen us because of our philanthropic work (veteran/military support, environmental stewardship, children’s education, etc.). Although all Rentokil brands will eventually fold into one, the brand migration process needs to be a slow and thoughtful one. We have developed a strong connection between the Alpha Ecological brand and our customers based on our commitment to social responsibility. That’s important to us.”

Sneer adds that it wasn’t an easy decision to sell Alpha, but the family knew the time was right: They felt they had taken it as far as they could on their own, and they wanted to sell it at peak performance.

“The family wanted to make sure that whomever we sold to would carry on the legacy we had established,” Sneer says. “We chose to sell to Rentokil because we felt that they shared the same commitment to colleagues and customers. Furthermore, Rentokil has greater opportunities for colleague growth within the organization, and superior benefits and pay structure. Now the sky is the limit now for our colleagues.” — Donna DeFranco
 

Incorporating Best Practices, Moving Toward Collaborative Solutions

With every acquisition comes new opportunity, to not only expand market share and reach but also adopt the best practices that fit. “It would be downright foolish of executives not to take advantage of the things that are going well within the companies that they are adding to their portfolio,” says Rentokil’s John Myers.

Among the best practices of his own organization, Myers is likely to include the practices Rentokil has developed to make the acquisition process a mutually beneficial experience. “We recognize that not everyone has the time or resources to develop exit strategies for their businesses,” he says. “In response to this, my team has developed an effective succession and acquisition strategy tailored specifically to each purchase. Whether a business is a small organization with few employees or a large corporation with extensive service areas, Rentokil is equipped to make the acquisition process seamless for colleagues and customers.

“We have the right recipe for success,” Myers concludes. “We hold sustainable fiscal growth in high regard, but we believe in investing to support profitable growth. This means that we have the capital and financial resources to take businesses to the next level. Companies that share our values of long-lasting, productive relationships with colleagues and customers just might belong among the Rentokil family of brands.” — Donna DeFranco

 

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#2: Terminix

Terminix Acquires Two Canadian Pest Control Companies
 

Terminix International, Memphis, Tenn., announced the acquisitions of two Canadian pest and wildlife control companies: Excel Pest Control and Cabot Pest Control.

Excel Pest Control was established in 1999 by Greg and Shelly Ricker and is located in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The company provides residential, commercial and industrial pest control as well as infrared building condition monitoring, insulation services, structural renovations and hygienic washroom care. Excel Pest Control services customers in Fredericton, St. John’s, Moncton, Woodstock, Sussex and St. Stephen. The acquisition occurred in December 2014.

“We are very excited to see the future of Excel as it grows with the help of Terminix,” said Greg Ricker, owner of Excel Pest Control. “We were fortunate to have three offers all at the same time and chose Terminix because we were most comfortable with their leadership and teams.”

Cabot Pest Control was founded in 1998 by Kenneth and Kathy Pretty and is located in St. John, Newfoundland. The acquisition occurred in January 2015. Cabot, which specializes in residential and commercial pest control, also provides bird control services, commercial washroom care, odor neutralizers and home protection plans; it services customers in the agricultural, institutional, pharmaceutical and industrial sectors. Ken Pretty, owner of Cabot Pest Control, said, “We decided to join Terminix because we heard good things from other companies that joined Terminix. Another major point was that Terminix is taking care of all our staff — everyone was offered a position and we felt like part of the team from the start.”

Bill Derwin, president of Terminix, said Excel and Cabot are two of the more exciting additions to its business. “In our efforts to expand our presence, Canada will play an important role in our growth strategy. We focus on acquiring solid companies with high integrity, experienced technicians, and loyal, recurring, long-tenured customers. Because of that, we’re pleased to welcome the teams at Cabot and Excel to Terminix.”

Terminix has had substantial growth in Canada since 2013. These two new additions follow acquisitions of Toronto-based Magical Pest Control, Vancouver-based Care Pest & Wildlife Control and Quebec-based Groupe Cameron during the past two years. Company officials said the Excel and Cabot acquisitions will not have a material impact on its first-quarter or full-year 2015 financial results.
 

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#5: Massey Services

Massey Services Acquires Wolf Pest Control of South Carolina
 

Massey Services, in March announced the purchase of Wolf Pest Control of South Carolina, located in Greenville, Charleston and Columbia.

“We are pleased to welcome the Wolf Pest Control team members and customers to the Massey Services organization,” said Harvey L. Massey, chairman and CEO of Massey Services. “We look for companies who have a reputation for exceptional customer service and Wolf Pest Control has done an outstanding job in their commitment to total customer satisfaction.”

The joining of the two companies expands Massey Services’ presence into the South Carolina market. Massey Services is headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and it provides service to more than 450,000 customers throughout Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

Massey Services was founded in 1985 by Harvey Massey, who is a 51-year veteran of the pest management and landscape services industries. Massey Services is currently celebrating its 30th consecutive year of profitable growth.
 

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#22: Environmental Pest Service

Six Ways to Hire Quality Employees


Hiring the right employees is critical for the long-term success of your business (whether you’re in the PCT Top 100 or not), and as companies face more competition for the best applicants in this improving economy, human resources departments are working harder and faster to find the best people.

Streamlining your company’s search and application procedures is a key to having an efficient hiring process. And effective search methods, along with a clear idea of what makes an ideal candidate, can help eliminate unqualified applicants early in the process, saving time for hiring managers.

Here are six tips for hiring quality employees for your pest control company:
 

1. Use all available resources to find candidates. Finding the right employee begins with your search technique. Online job listings such as Indeed.com or Monster.com are good starting points, but they should not be your only resource.

Utilize your current employees to bring in qualified job candidates. They know the company culture and job requirements, and should be able to refer people who are a good fit. A referral program that offers compensation may encourage current employees to help fill an open position.

Job applicants need to have a strong foundation in customer service. Ask your employees to think about who they have seen provide good customer service out in the community. Have them hand out business cards to professionals they think may be interested in joining your organization.
 

Save the Date! Top 100 Event to be Held in 2016

The fourth PCT Top 100 Awards Ceremony and Executive Summit will be held next summer, June 15-16, 2016, in San Diego, Calif.

The program will feature a special reception honoring the PCT Top 100 companies, as well as an Executive Summit, which will include panel discussions and speakers on a variety of topics relating to the pest management industry.

Invitations to eligible companies will be mailed in May 2016. The program will be sponsored by Univar Environmental Sciences.

Want to learn more about San Diego? Now’s your chance! Here are some fun facts about our host city:

  • The city of San Diego was rated the 5th best place to live in the United States.
  • San Diego is the 8th largest city in the U.S. and the 2nd largest city in California.
  • San Diego is famed for the best climate in the United States, with an average yearly temperature of 70°F.
  • San Diego produces more avocados than any other place in the country.
  • San Diego has more than 7,000 farms, the most in one city in the United States.

2. Analyze first impressions. First impressions can be used to gauge a candidate’s customer service skills. Customer retention is the key to success for pest control companies, so high-quality customer service needs to be a top priority for every team member.

Also, a well-written resume, without spelling or grammatical errors, helps indicate whether the candidate is committed to quality and is detail-oriented.

Use the first interview to gain insight on how a new employee would appear to your customers. Do the applicant’s greeting, body language and eye contact match what you want your customers to experience?
 

3. Monitor for consistency. A job history that lists several different positions and companies is not automatically a negative, as long as applicants can explain why they moved around. Also, an applicant who hasn’t had long periods of unemployment is desirable, because these applicants are usually self-motivated and dedicated to advancing their career.
 

4. Don’t be afraid to train a new employee from scratch. A candidate with a lack of pest control experience might still be the best choice for certain positions at your company.

In this situation, you can have the opportunity to train new technicians with the techniques and procedures your company prefers. In some cases, experienced technicians may have developed bad habits or service shortcuts that will affect their job performance.
 

5. Use recruiters to fill executive positions, but stay involved in the process. In many cases, an executive recruiter may be needed to help find qualified candidates for higher-level positions. Recruiters are able to do the time-consuming tasks needed to find the best candidate, including in-depth research and cold-calling potential applicants.

A word of caution, though: HR departments can run into trouble if the recruiter is more focused on getting a commission than finding a long-term fit for your company. Motivate the recruiter to find a good match for the company by structuring the contract so the commission is paid after a new hire has completed a probation period.
 

6. Offer competitive pay and benefits. Employers need to be prepared to compete for the best candidates, and you will need an attractive benefit package to entice top talent.

Analyze what other pest control companies are offering to ensure that your package is competitive, and talk with your current employees about what they feel is important in terms of benefits. — Karen Madden, vice president of human resources, Environmental Pest Service


Editor’s note: Environmental Pest Service is the parent company of Arrow Environmental Services, Bug Out Service and Skyline Pest Solutions, and offers a variety of pest control, lawn care and wildlife removal/exclusion services throughout Florida and Georgia.

 

Allgood Pest Solutions Sells Jacksonville Branch To Environmental Pest Service


Parent company of Bug Out Service buys operation to expand Northeast Florida reach.


In March, Allgood Pest Solutions sold its Jacksonville branch to the parent company of Bug Out Service, expanding Bug Out Service’s presence in Northeast Florida.

Allgood Services of Georgia, headquartered in Duluth, Ga., (doing business as Allgood Pest Solutions), said it has greatly enjoyed serving the Jacksonville community for the past 14 years, but is now shifting its focus to building out new service offerings in support of the company’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

The transaction will help Bug Out Service expand its reach throughout Northeast Florida, the firm said. “We’re pleased to leave our business in such good hands,” said Allgood’s Chuck Tindol.

“We have known and respected Bug Out Service for a number of years, and Bug Out’s Paul Felker and his team are leaders in the Jacksonville area.”

The transaction is the most recent event in a series of changes occurring as a result of Allgood’s revamped growth strategy. In March 2014, Allgood acquired Rich Exterminators in Lawrenceville, Ga. (north metro Atlanta). Then, in September 2014, Allgood acquired Georgia-based AGF Pest and Wildlife Management to build out the company’s wildlife control division. In addition to the pest and wildlife control solutions services — the heart of the company’s business — Allgood is now also heavily investing in new services such as home repair. With emphasis now on its core geographic markets, Allgood expects to position itself for unprecedented growth over the next decade, the company says.

Meanwhile, Bug Out Service’s parent company, Environmental Pest Service, continues to grow its Jacksonville and Florida footprints. The company merged in December with two other area companies — The Pest Detective and Ben’s Pest Control.

“The Jacksonville market continues to hold great promise for growth for us, building on the quality reputation built by Bug Out Service,” said Environmental Pest Service CEO Joe Finney. “We are excited to have Allgood’s Jacksonville employees join us, as our two companies share a commitment to quality service.”

 

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#35: McCloud

Loyola University Awards McCloud Services the Century Award


McCloud Services, South Elgin, Ill., was named the 2014 recipient of the Century Award in Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business 21st Annual Illinois Family Business of the Year Awards. The award recognizes an outstanding family-owned business, in operation for 100 years or more, which exhibits strong multi-generational involvement, economic flexibility and the ability to innovate to stay relevant through changing times.

“It is a great honor for McCloud Services to receive the Century Award,” said President and CEO Chris McCloud. “This recognition reflects the hard work and dedication of our people throughout the years. We remain committed to honoring our company legacy of providing technical solutions combined with exceptional service for our clients.”

Currently in its fourth generation of family ownership, led by CEO Chris McCloud, McCloud Services has been at the forefront of professional pest management throughout its 110-year existence. The company was founded in 1904 by William Bailey McCloud as a manufacturer and distributor of livestock insecticides for use in Chicago stockyards. From its headquarters in South Elgin, Ill., the company serves a 11-state region, with five service centers in Illinois and more than 50 percent of its 180 employees residing in the state.

Throughout its 110-year history, McCloud has been a leader of new trends and technologies, such as helping to organize the first national and local formal industry associations in the 1930s, developing IPM solutions for its food supply clients in the 1950s and spearheading technology advances since the 1990s.

Taking a data-driven approach, the firm specializes in providing alternatives to traditional pesticides.

Rooted in the community, the company prides itself on providing philanthropic contributions to the communities it serves, including donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Food for Friends and the Humane Society. Recently the company contributed nearly $8,000 to non-profit organizations as part of its annual Employee Incentive Program, which allows employees who exceed production and sales goals for the fiscal year to make a company donation to the charity of their choice.

“Illinois is a great place to work and do business, and we are proud to have called this state home for the past four generations. As we continue to grow, we remain committed to finding new ways to give back to our communities,” said McCloud.

An awards gala honoring the winners and finalists took place in November 2014.
 

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#47: Braman

Braman Termite and Pest Elimination Celebrates 125 Years in Business


Braman Termite and Pest Elimination, Agawam, Mass., is celebrating 125 years in business this year. The business, originally founded in Boston in 1890, moved the headquarters to Agawam in 1980.

The original pest control products used by the firm were created by “Mr. Braman,” (for whom the business still owes its name). They were displayed at a Boston meat market owned by Jack Lazarus. These homemade product recipes were left with Lazarus to continue developing when Mr. Braman retired. Lazarus then began a side business applying pesticides when customers complained homemade remedies did not work.

“In 1890, pest control was usually done at night or when no one was around,” said Jerry Lazarus, third-generation owner of Braman. The evolution of pest control has come a long way. In the late 1800s pest control was primarily done with kitchen sink concoctions made with ingredients like arsenic — which has a very distinct and unpleasant smell. “The common view was that ‘if it didn’t stink, it didn’t work.’ Nowadays, if it stinks you have a problem,” said Lazarus.

Today, people might take technology like email, cell phones, bar code scanning, and global positioning systems (GPS) for granted — but those advancements are what have helped Braman provide fast, efficient and customer-centered service.

“Technological advancements have been adopted by the pest management industry to better communicate with customers and create efficiencies to help us be competitive and profitable,” said Lazarus.

Braman Termite and Pest Elimination has adopted social media to stay in touch with customers and generally educate the public. In honor of the 125-year anniversary, Braman prepared 125 themed posts for its Facebook account (www.facebook.com/bramanpest) that will appear throughout the year.

Braman says its employee milestones are equally impressive as its 125-year anniversary. Many employees have provided decades of service, including:

  • Michael Bensche, director of marketing, 31 years of service
  • Robert Pajak, special projects manager, 30 years of service
  • Rob Weinstein, vice president of sales, 29 years of service
  • David Rybinski, branch manager, 29 years of service
  • Ed Deuso, senior service professional, 27 years of service
  • Leo Mulvaney, service supervisor, 27 years of service
  • Wayne Mosher, branch manager, 25 years of service
  • Linda Guyette, operations manager, 24 years of service
  • Don Tyler, route supervisor, 23 years of service
  • Mark Camire, senior service professional, 23 years of service
  • William Principe, branch manager, 22 years of service
  • Shawn Bradley, sales manager, 21 years of service
  • Ed Pertillar, senior service professional, 20 years of service
  • John Kloczkowski, senior service professional, 20 years of service

     

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#16: Dodson

Dodson Pest Control Acquires Dial Exterminating


In January, Dodson Pest Control, Lynchburg, Va., announced it had acquired Dial Exterminating of Columbia, S.C. Dial Exterminating has been in business since 1970 and was established by Davis Wise and his son Larry. All members of the Wise family have decided to retire from the business while the non-family employees will join the Dodson Columbia office.

“Our company will continue to maintain Dial’s strong commitment to quality service,” said Dodson President and CEO Bert Dodson Jr. “We look forward to servicing the needs of their loyal customers.”

Dodson Pest Control is #16 on the PCT Top 100 list. Established in 1944, Dodson has 36 offices serving Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, eastern Tennessee and the District of Columbia-Maryland metropolitan area.

The acquisition of Dial Exterminating is Dodson’s largest in its 70-year history.
 

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#38: Wil-Kil

Wil-Kil Pest Control Celebrates 90 Years


Wil-Kil Pest Control, Sun Prairie, Wis., announced the recognition and celebration of its 90th anniversary last year.

“Since 1924, Wil-Kil has led the way in innovation, service and expertise in the pest management industry — and we thank the customers and employees who have made this achievement possible,” said Dale Bauerkemper, vice president and general manager of Wil-Kil. “What started with one service center and a handful of employees in Milwaukee, has grown into a team of 150 of the industry’s most talented professionals in four service centers covering Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, parts of Iowa, Chicagoland and all of Northern Illinois.”

Wil-Kil was established in Milwaukee in 1924 by Irwin Klein. Klein sold the company to Henry Turrie, who is regarded as the company’s “founding father.” Turrie is credited with the tremendous growth Wil-Kil experienced throughout the 1950s as it grew from a small, local company to a large, regional company.

“It was Henry Turrie’s vision to establish Wil-Kil as the quality leader in pest management — and it is because of this vision that we are now recognized as the Upper Midwest’s quality leader in pest management,” said Bauerkemper.

In reflecting on Wil-Kil’s 90 years of protecting homes, businesses and reputations throughout the Upper Midwest, Bauerkemper said, “We stand today as a proactive company, recognized as the first in the state to hire a bed bug canine scent detection dog in 2009, and an early adopter of the latest technologies and techniques of Integrated Pest Management. Through these practices, we are able to provide our customers with the most data-driven, environmentally sound solutions to their pest challenges.”
 

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#6: Arrow

Arrow Exterminators: Third Year of Internship Program Successful


For the third year in a row, Atlanta-based Arrow Exterminators ran an internship program in which interns worked across a number of business departments, including human resources, marketing, training, customer care, sales and more.

“Hiring, training and retaining the best people is an integral part of our vision,” said Shay Runion, chief human resources officer. “Providing opportunities to learn about our industry and the various career paths that are available is a great way to attract young, talented individuals who will be the future of our company. Our interns spend two full days learning all about Arrow Exterminators and our unique culture as well as about the industry before they receive their department assignment based on their interests.”

Parker Nayman, sophomore at Flagler College, said, “Interning at Arrow Exterminators has been a wonderful opportunity. Learning about the pest control industry while working with the human resources team has helped shape and pave a solid path for my future.”

Taylor Connelly, now a full-time Arrow service professional, said, “I was undecided on what path to take after high school. My internship has taught me that there is so much more to this industry.”

Autumn White, who interned with the marketing team, said, “I have changed my major to marketing after learning about it from the inside of a company. I will continue my internship through the school year and am so excited to be able to stay on at Arrow.”

Runion added, “Our commitment to training and professional development through Arrow University cannot be understated. By bringing in these talented individuals at a young age, they get to see what a dynamic industry we all work in and will hopefully choose to begin their careers with us when they are ready.”
 

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#68: McCall

Ministry Has Prayers Answered to Save Homes From Termites


Two Jacksonville, Fla., pest management companies did their part earlier this year to help an organization with its termite problem by donating their expertise to help eradicate drywood termites from a pair of homes operated by the Prisoners of Christ ministry.

Prisoners of Christ is a faith-based program providing re-entry services for men coming out of prison as they transition back into civilian life. The ministry operates five transition houses in the Jacksonville area, where recently released prisoners live and receive counseling and life skills training.

Two of these homes, however, were infested with drywood termites. McCall Service and Rivers Pest Control performed full-house fumigations on each structure.

For both McCall Service and Rivers Pest Control, giving back to the community is part of the corporate culture they aspire to on a daily basis.

“Investing in those who are willing to make positive changes in their lives and giving back to the community is what McCall Service is about,” says Bryan Cooksey, president and CEO of the Jacksonville-based, second-generation pest management and lawn care company. “We have been blessed by our customers and we are giving back to the community that blessed us. The Prisoners of Christ organization is a living example of how Christ has asked us to be a light in this world to others and we are doing our part.”

For Prisoners of Christ, the much-needed fumigation services meant it can protect its houses from termite damage without having to redirect limited operating funds that support the day-to-day activities of the mission, such as meals, utilities, and job placement and counseling services

“What McCall Service and Rivers Pest Control are doing is a real credit to their sense of community and compassion,” says Ken Durkee, president of the Prisoners of Christ program in Jacksonville. “We rely on donors to help out and the in-kind work these two companies are providing is greatly appreciated and lets us keep the ministry moving forward and achieving its goals.”
 

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#55: Batzner

Batzner Services ‘Goes Pink’ for Breast Cancer Awareness Month


New Berlin, Wis.-based Batzner Services/Batzner Pest Management customers noticed something different about their service professionals last October. As part of the company’s initiative to go pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Batzner service professionals wore pink shoe covers and pink gloves during their service visits throughout October. But the pink shoe covers and gloves were only part of the company-wide breast cancer awareness efforts Batzner launched.

Batzner office employees also got into the pink spirit. The company’s monthly “jeans for charity” initiative benefitted Susan G. Komen in October. The Batzner office was decked with pink on Oct. 24, when the company had a special pink day in the office — including a jeans day and lunch for employees who donated to Susan G. Komen.

“We were excited to roll out a company-wide effort to raise awareness and funds to battle a disease that has touched the friends and families of many within our company,” said Jerry Batzner, Batzner Pest Management president and CEO.

The 14th Annual Batzner Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Races were included in the “go pink” festivities as well. Batzner also made a donation on behalf of the winning team. Last year’s races took place on Oct. 9, at the Batzner offices in New Berlin.

“Everyone in the company looks forward to the cockroach races each year. It’s an event that’s unique to our company and being able to tie the races in with the company’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month efforts made them even better,” Batzner said.
 

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#86: Varment Guard

Family, Friends, Celebrate Gerry Wegner’s Retirement


Family, friends and coworkers gathered in March in Columbus, Ohio, to recognize the retirement of Varment Guard’s Dr. Gerry Wegner, the company’s longtime technical director/part-owner, and one of the pest control industry’s leading educators and goodwill ambassadors.

Wegner, an Illinois native and graduate of Loyola University (Ill.) and Ohio State University, came to Varment Guard in 1985, after a five-year stint working for A-1 Pest Control in Columbus (1981-85). During the next 30 years, Wegner would become part-owner, technical director and chief entomologist. He’s trained countless numbers of service professionals and has helped solve innumerable problems for customers both at Varment Guard and through its Copesan network affiliations.

In addition to his numerous contributions within the company, Wegner has helped advance the industry’s technical acumen via articles and seminars. In his spare time Wegner has created dozens of “bug clocks” featuring mounted insect specimens that he has donated for various fund-raising purposes to Purdue University, Pi Chi Omega, the Ohio Pest Management Association Scholarship Fund and other worthy organizations.

Jim Vaive, president of Columbus, Ohio-based Varment Guard, said Wegner’s company contributions are many-fold, but what he came to respect and appreciate the most was Wegner’s humbleness and compassion for others. “Because of Gerry and his knowledge we — Varment Guard — are where we are,” Vaive added.

Gerry and wife Debbie, who are parents to grown children Beth and David, will be retiring to Florida.
 

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#11: Truly Nolen

Truly Nolen On The Move


Truly Nolen has been making many moves lately. Late last year, El Paso Truly Nolen acquired Fox Pest Control, El Paso, Texas.

Jace Anderson, owner of Fox Pest Control, said both companies’ teams are devoted to ensuring each customer’s pest control experience is a positive one.

“Our Fox Pest Control servicing team has joined with Truly Nolen Pest Control in working to provide our customers with the very best pest control services available in the El Paso area,” said Anderson.

In February, the firm announced the opening of two independently owned and operated franchises in Ohio — Truly Nolen of Columbus, at 6171 Huntley Road, and Truly Nolen of Mansfield, at 49 Briggs Drive.

The new franchises are owned by partners Bob Toledo, who has 13 years of experience in the pest control industry, and Eric McWhorter, who has 19 years of experience. Toledo joins Truly Nolen after owning a franchise with a major national pest control company for 11 years, while McWhorter already owned a company in Mansfield, which will be converted to Truly Nolen.

In March, the firm announced the grand opening of its first independently owned and operated franchise in North Carolina, serving the Charlotte area south to the Fort Mill, S.C./Rock Hill, S.C., area. The Truly Nolen Carolina team has more than 35 years of collective experience in the pest control industry.

In April, in Abilene, Texas, the firm opened a new independently owned and operated franchise. “Nick Negen will oversee this Truly Nolen location alongside family members Charlie and Cindy. Together, the Negens have the background, the determination and the passion for customer service to make them a perfect fit to expand the Truly Nolen family,” said Ron DeSear, vice president of domestic franchising, Truly Nolen.